Considering how many horror movies Hollywood releases on a regular basis, it's notable just to find a mainstream one that's actually worth your time. An even more surprising feat is having multiple scary movies within the same franchise that are also worth your money. Very few films within the genre can manage that feat, but The Conjuring franchise manage it on a regular basis.
What James Wan and everyone involved with two The Conjuring movies, two Annabelle movies, and The Nun have achieved is nothing short of impressive. Each has earned great commercial success, with the most recent addition to the universe (The Nun) not breaking that pattern in the slightest. Even if every film isn't made with the same level of care and quality, they've all been successes that serve as easy motivation for producers to make more.
There's no single reason why The Conjuring universe has worked so well, but much of it comes from those moments where the cameras aren't rolling, when filmmaking epiphanies occur and previously-small decisions become game-changing. These little details built this franchise to the massive heights it has now reached, effectively towering over the competition. Perhaps it's the somewhat truthful nature of the film's events, or maybe it's the time and effort put into making every second feel suitably frightening. Nevertheless, it's the little details in The Conjuring world that make it so engaging with audiences, and they're certainly worth exploring.
Here are 25 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Conjuring Movies.
25 Both Conjuring films are based on "real" hauntings
Yes, the legitimacy of any supernatural event is always going to be debated, but at least in the context of the characters and events included, those details are at least partially true. The Warrens were working as ghost hunters back in the '70s and '80s, covering famous cases like the notorious Enfield and Amityville hauntings.
Now, as is typically the case, the cinematic portrayal of the truth is greatly "heightened." Even so, the subdued nature of the films leads to a greater sense of legitimacy in what's happening on-screen. Knowing that many details are exaggerated will make sleeping at night easier, but knowing there's some truth to them will keep you awake a tad longer than you'd like.
24 Supernatural happenings on the set
The concept of creepy things happening as you're working on a horror movie isn't exactly uncommon. After all, movies like Poltergeist and The Omen have had several ominous happenings that occurred to those connected to the films. Thankfully, no serious incidents happened here, there were spooky occurrences spread throughout the production of each installment.
Even when the camera's off, it seems the scares don't stop.
Plenty of strangeness occupied those involved with the movies, from phone calls getting interrupted by random static or James Wan's dog randomly barking at an uninhabited corner late one night. Vera Farmiga got the worst of it, as her laptop randomly had massive claw marks across the screen.
23 The Warren's Occult Museum is real-- and you can visit
When it comes to places that define the phrase "Enter at your own risk," the Warren's Occult Museum of haunted objects takes the cake. Every one of the Warrens' collected "evil artifacts" (over the course of 50 years of work) are in a single location, and that location offers tours.
It's a fun idea for some and a reimagining of the Monster Purge scene in The Cabin in the Woods for others. This is far from a place for the faint of heart-- or for the regularly clumsy. In a sense, this hall is their trophy case. If you'd like to see the most haunted trophy case in existence, book a trip today!
22 The Real Annabelle looks completely different
For those of you worried about the haunted Annabelle doll going full Chucky on you, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that Annabelle is, in fact, a real doll. The good news? She doesn't look quite so aggressively evil in real life.
The true Annabelle is just a Raggedy Ann doll, looking identical to the millions of other dolls that have existed over the years.
A key difference between them is that this particular version of the doll is constantly encased in glass, surrounded by crucifixes and warning signs. Which version of the doll is more frightening to you? The right answer is "both."
21 The big exorcism from The Conjuring never happened
Exorcisms are a consistent go-to in horror. Most of the time, they're thrilling and tense, serving as the encapsulation of everything that's happened prior to this point, and can even be the pivotal point of a character's arc. However, as everyone knows too well, reality is regularly less exciting than movies make it seem.
Case in point: Ed Warren never performed an exorcism during the Perron case. The Conjuring's climactic moment in the cellar with Ed Warren and the demonic Bathsheba never happened. This event never took place because of a simple reason, according to Lorraine Warren. Ed wasn't a priest, so he didn't perform the ceremony. Doesn't it make for a thrilling third act, though?
20 The Warrens' involvement in Enfield was highly exaggerated in The Conjuring 2
In The Conjuring 2, the Warrens are represented as the most steadfast, committed (although not immediately convinced) helpers to the Hodgson family. Yet, according to one of the original Enfield investigators, this was far from what really happened. According to Guy Lyon Playfair, the Warrens weren't ever officially involved with Enfield in any capacity.
Reportedly, Ed Warren stopped by the Hodgson house once uninvited, then was never seen again.
It's an interesting revelation considering the position of the person making the statements. It also makes you question us much of the sequel was based on real events. The Conjuring 2's just a bit more fictional than fans thought.
19 Janet Hodgson admitted to faking several incidents from The Conjuring 2
Don't you hate when you're trying to prove a haunting, but the ghost suddenly gets really shy? That's what happened with the central victim of the Enfield Poltergeist, Janet Hodgson. Some supernatural being was in her household and people were having difficulty believing her. After all, everyone's first response when something haunted occurs is full of skepticism. Hodgson realized she had some convincing to do.
This led to her faking a few instances of ghostly activity in order to support her case. Considering the length of time passed in which the haunting apparently took place, we can't exactly blame her for trying to speed things along. Everything else, according to Hodgson herself, was entirely real.
18 The Conjuring composer played the demonic Bathsheba
Casting someone for a key role is never an easy take, particularly when it's a role that's both thankless and intense, like the role of a demon. However, it seems that the casting was easy for James Wan, as he didn't have to look far for his Bathsheba. Joseph Bishara, the composer behind both The Conjuring movies, is the man responsible for bringing the wicked witch to life.
He also plays the evil Annabelle being in Annabelle: Creation, as well as just a plain old demon in Annabelle and The Conjuring 2.
Bishara is a man of many talents; he can be the subject of your nightmares, then compose the perfectly-fitting musical accompaniment for it.
17 The nun scenes were added during reshoots
A clear highlight of The Conjuring 2 was the chills-inducing nun character Valak. The spine-tingling musical chime every time they appeared, their haunting eyes, and everything else. It brought the movie to new heights, even if it wasn't a part of the film until reshoots began.
Throughout principal photography, director James Wan was trying to figure out what the evil being would look like. He eventually had his epiphany. Since the sequel dealt with Lorraine Warren's crisis of faith, Wan figured that the evil being should be representative of Lorraine's faith (i.e a nun). The nun was added to the film, and the rest is nightmare-filled history.
16 James Wan turned down Fate of the Furious for The Conjuring 2
With all of his success in Hollywood so far, James Wan has become a hot commodity. When it came time to do a sequel to Furious 7, Universal was eager to get him back.
Wan was eager to go back to his horror roots, and fortunately for fans of the genre, The Conjuring 2 gave him a chance to do exactly that.
Even after coming off of a billion dollar movie in Furious 7, Wan turned down the sequel in favor of The Conjuring 2. This ultimately worked out well as The Conjuring 2 was a worthy follow-up to its predecessor thanks to Wan's continued excellence, allowing the franchise to soar higher than ever.
15 Vera Farmiga screamed so much she developed swollen lymph nodes
A component of filming horror movies nobody really thinks about is the sheer amount of screaming must do throughout filming. Vera Farmiga is no exception to this, as she screamed so much during The Conjuring 2 that she actually developed swollen lymph nodes.
Due to the sequel focusing a bit more on Lorraine, Farmiga had more solo scenes where she gets personally haunted. This led to vocal cord strain beyond your typical acting gig, with there being up to 50 reported takes a day, each involving screaming of some kind. It was likely not Farmiga's easiest gig, but the raw emotion she puts on display is certainly felt while watching her performance.
14 The Enfield haunting lasted much longer than the movie showed
Something that can really draw you into a scary movie is your own sense of empathy while watching the struggles of the family being haunted. The Conjuring 2 is no different as the film portrays a grim living situation where every sleep is full of bumps in the night. It must be awful.
Imagine if those bumps in the night went on for several years.
That was the case with the Hodgson family. They'd been dealing with hauntings since 1977, only garnering media attention around 1979. The legitimacy of the hauntings aren't completely confirmed, of course, but detail still differs from The Conjuring 2.
13 Valak's name appears all over the Warren house in The Conjuring 2
The name Valak makes multiple appearances in the background of several scenes in The Conjuring 2. When Ed discusses his Valak painting with Lorraine, you can see a set of letter blocks that spell out the name in the background. In the scene leading up to Lorraine's daughter seeing Valak, you can see the name spelled out on the bookshelf.
These details help indicate how ever-present Valak is throughout the film, constantly haunting Lorraine without anyone, including Ed realizing it. Their presence is felt at all points in the runtime, and these little Easter eggs serve as a reminder of just how embedded Valak is in Lorraine's psyche.
12 A priest always blesses the set on the first day of filming
After frequently making horror movies, many cast and crew members seem to develop a bit of superstition. For every movie in the series, it's become a tradition for every first day of production to start with a visit from a priest.
This tradition became something that was treated like a practical necessity.
Although it may seem silly to some, the previous instances of supernatural experiences for the cast and crew likely motivated this move. Even the most cynical member of the team likely had the Michael Scott mentality: "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious."
11 Other families claim to have been haunted at Enfield
The Enfield Poltergeist will forever be debated as there were both inexplicable and explicable elements to the situation. Due to that little bit of uncertainty, the legend of Bill Wilkinson and Co. lives on. Apparently, it did so literally, as even after the Hodgson family left the house, the next family felt a clear presence that was "always watching them."
Clare Bennet and her children moved into the house, unaware of what the previous owners dealt with. Following multiple instances of the children hearing voices, they decided to move. The night before they left, Clare's son Shake mentioned that a man entered their room late that night and didn't leave. They promptly left the next morning.
10 The Crooked Man isn't CGI
A consistent critique of modern horror films is the overuse of CGI over practical effects. In the eyes of many who grew up with classic old-school horror, CGI is just a synonym for "fake." This was a criticism levied at The Conjuring 2's Crooked Man, who many believed was ruined by the digital effects used on him. Well, believe it or not, The Crooked Man, in all his crooked glory, is entirely practical.
Easily one of Hollywood's underrated talents, Javier Botet is responsible for this unique creature.
Born with Marfan Syndrome, Botet is capable of incredibly impressive movements with his body. Everything from the Crooked Man's stop-motion-like movements to his tall stature is all Botet.
9 The Perrons And Lorraine Warren served as consultants on The Conjuring
When dealing with true stories, getting someone directly involved with them is key. They are the best sources of information and can provide helpful insight. When James Wan got the idea to adapt the Warrens' case files into films, he needed a fair share of consultation. He managed to get it in the sole living half of the real-life Ghostbusters with Lorraine Warren.
Going beyond simple consultation, Lorraine and the Perron family from the first Conjuring helped Wan make the film as authentic as possible. It seemed that the Perrons and Lorraine were happy to just get the stories out there, with Janet Hodgson being an exception.
8 The Conjuring was shot in chronological order
A common element of filming that some may not know is that films rarely shoot in-sequence, like how the movie eventually plays out. Usually, there are practicalities that necessitate jumping between different scenes and moments, forcing the on-screen talent to really work hard to keep their arc authentic. However, James Wan decided to break away from the norm and elected to film in chronological order instead for The Conjuring.
This must've made filming much easier for the cast.
There's no need to jump two steps forward or three steps back in your character's development-- just go to the logical next sequence in the script, already feeling the sense of what the final movie will be like.
7 Every scene with a church had to be reshot
When watching The Nun, it's clear that one of its greatest assets is the hauntingly beautiful landscapes of Romania. So much of the atmosphere-setting and imagery works due to the naturally-provided sights in the country. There was only one component of filming in Romania that came with some difficulties: a movie revolving around nuns could not film inside active churches.
In Romania, it's illegal to film within churches, so The Nun team were forced to create a church set.
The Abbey of St. Carta ended up being built within a production studio, making the cast and crew step away from au naturel Romania for a bit. Thankfully, it isn't too noticeable a location swap.
6 Why The Conjuring is Rated R
Yes, it sounds like a marketing ploy, but the MPAA's actual ruling was due to how scary the movie was. The judges discussed everything and decided that, even without any significant use of blood or gore, the film had to be rated R. When asked for further explanation, they simply stated the film felt far beyond a standard PG-13 rating and left it at that.
This put James Wan and company in a difficult spot as they were banking on a more family-friendly rating so the audience size would be greater. In the end, they decided that they had no interest in diluting the movie, so they left it as is, and the movie then spawned a major franchise.
5 Valak's actress Bonnie Aarons wears makeup, but no prosthetics
Going back to that lovely, nightmare-inducing nun, an interesting factoid brought up by Bonnie Aarons, the actress who brought the character to life, is that the role didn't require any prosthetics. That's right. Using strictly makeup, you too can adopt the haunting appearance of a demonic nun!
A huge aspect of what makes Valak work so well on-screen is the inclusion of very minimal digital effects. You're terrified as an audience member because when you see Valak, it's just someone in makeup, donning a nun costume. It's that Michael Myers sensation of "you could see this in real life!" When you can capture truly haunting imagery in-camera without any needed post-production, you've got something special.
4 Ellen Degeneres lived in the apartment from Annabelle
Although it's probably not everyone's favorite Conjuring installment, the apartment in which Annabelle was filmed has an interesting background detail. Specifically, it used to be the home of a certain TV show host. On her show, Ellen Degeneres remarked that while she was watching the film, she felt an eerie familiarity. She then connected the dots and realized it was her first apartment back when she initially moved to Los Angeles.
She had a good laugh over the coincidence, mentioning that the apartment was "scary then" and it's "scary now."
It's probably best she moved out when she did. Annabelle seems to have grown very fond of the place.
3 Future installments on the horizon
As previously mentioned, The Conjuring cinematic universe isn't stopping anytime soon. So what's next on the release schedule?
First, it seems the Warrens will make a welcome return in The Conjuring 3. It's unknown what case they'll take on this time, but it's been confirmed that James Wan will not be directing this installment. Instead, he'll be handing the directorial reins to Michael Chaves. It's disappointing to see Wan leave the director's chair, but here's hoping Chaves can meet the high standard. After that, there's Annabelle 3. Story details on the film are scarce. Lastly, there's The Crooked Man, which is being written and developed by screenwriter Peter Safran.
2 Vera Farmiga's sister Taissa plays the lead in The Nun
While watching The Nun, you probably couldn't help but notice just how similar Taissa Farmiga's Sister Irene looks to Vera Farmiga's Lorraine. You hop on IMDB and realize they're sisters! That's certainly interesting, but it's unclear why exactly this casting choice was made.
That is until you think about how The Nun takes place in 1952 and The Conjuring takes place in 1971-- not too far for some kind of direct connection between the two character. After all, casting two sisters in the same universe is almost never just a coincidence. Perhaps Irene is Lorraine's mother? Fans will just have to keep their fan theories brewing.
1 The Conjuring series is the highest-grossing R-rated horror series
For those who are wondering if the Conjuring universe has plateaued yet, here's your answer. The Nun, even after receiving poor reviews, has powered through to now make The Conjuring franchise the highest-grossing R-rated horror series ever. The five-movie total has now surpassed over $1.4 billion dollars, with all of the movies, with the exception of Annabelle, achieving $300 million at the box office.
The series has become everything Warner Bros. wanted and more. It's amazing to see just how much James Wan's series has blossomed since 2013. With several new installments coming through the pipeline, audiences can expect to receive new The Conjuring content for several years to come.
Did we miss any details about the making of The Conjuring Universe movies? Let us know in the comments!